Texas Football: 4 reasons why Longhorns can dominate Kansas State

T'Vondre Sweat, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
T'Vondre Sweat, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Xavier Worthy, Texas football
Xavier Worthy, Texas football /

Kansas State doesn’t have the speed in the secondary to contain Texas’ skill weapons from creative explosive plays

Suppose Texas had redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers available to start this weekend against Kansas State at home. In that case, I don’t think the Longhorns faithful would be nearly as worried about the Wildcats’ upset bid. But with redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy getting the start for the second week in a row while Ewers is out with the shoulder injury, the potential of costly turnovers and a limited offensive gameplan through the air has Texas fans cautiously optimistic about their chances against Kansas State.

Murphy played well for the Longhorns after a rocky start with a couple of turnovers in the win over BYU at home last week. He responded well in the final 45 minutes of the game against BYU, throwing for over 125 yards, two passing touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Kansas State poses a bigger challenge for Murphy and the Longhorns than they faced last weekend against BYU. While BYU does have some experienced and productive starters on defense, Kansas State boasts a better offense and a better secondary.

The Wildcats can keep Texas’ offense on the sidelines for longer in this game, thanks to Kansas State boasting one of the best ground games in the Big 12. Kansas State’s secondary also drastically limited the production of most passing attacks they’ve faced in the last four or five games.

Kansas State allowed just one passing touchdown in its last four games, including the loss to Oklahoma State on the road in Week 5. A combination of keeping opposing offenses out of the red zone completely with two huge defensive efforts in its last two wins and solid red zone defense when opponents do get into the red area has made it extremely difficult to get into the end zone on them through the air.

The Wildcat defense is one of just three in the FBS this season that has allowed one or fewer red zone passing touchdowns (per NCAA stats).

Given the struggles Sark and the Longhorns had this season punching the ball in the end zone once they get in the red area, Kansas State will pose a big test in this part of the field for Murphy and the offense.

Texas can exploit other parts of the Kansas State defense to get in the end zone this weekend. One way Texas can get in the end zone without overcoming their red zone woes on offense is to create explosive plays. The Longhorns can get their playmakers at the skill positions in space and over the top on Kansas State’s defense to get a couple of big play-touchdowns this weekend.

Murphy has a big arm and can throw the deep ball well. He beat BYU on an explosive play over the top for a 30-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Adonai Mitchell last week.

Given that the two weaknesses of the Kansas State 3-3-5 flyover defense in coverage are defending the deep ball and covering space on the underneath stuff, Texas’ offensive gameplan should find ways to exploit them on Saturday. Kansas State doesn’t have the speed in the secondary to contain big plays from explosive skill guys, especially in the deep passing game.

The Wildcats have allowed the second-most deep ball completions (12) and the fourth-most deep passing yards in coverage (467) of any Big 12 defense against Power Five offenses.

Sark will give Murphy some easy first-read throws underneath and potentially utilize the deep shot a few times, similar to what we saw against BYU last weekend. Texas has more speed and elusiveness in their receiving corps than Kansas State can match up against one-on-one. Eventually, Texas will break a couple of plays for big gains if Murphy is on point getting the ball to his playmakers in the passing game against Kansas State.